Obrázky stránek
[blocks in formation]

It was a deadly blow! A blow like that
Which swooping unawares from out the night
Dashes a man from some high starlit peak
Into a void of cold and hurrying waves.
'Twas not the loss alone. In that wild hour
Of first resistance, anguish, and despair,
He felt he could have borne her simple loss
So God had taken her. But loss of love!
Loss of belief in all the radiant past,
Of hope in years to come-ah, who but those
Whose lives have felt the shock of utter wreck,
Can rightly speak of what that hour of doom
Was to this man of sorrow!

[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]
[blocks in formation]



LIZABETH, Princess of Wied, now known as Carmen Sylva, Queen of Rumania, was born December 29, 1843, in the ancestral castle of her family at Neuwied, on the banks of the Rhine. Her childhood was passed amid influences that made her a woman long before the first bloom of youth was past. Her life was solitary. She had no other companionship than that of her invalid little brother; she did not play with boys and girls - she talked with the friends of her parents, with artists, poets and philosophers. She had duties and tasks that would have made her life a drudge, if she had not possessed imagination. This was her solace. It was her delight to dream, to let her fancy play, especially when she was at Monrepos, the family summer home, and could wander through the Westerwald and listen to the singing of the birds and the signing of the trees. began to write poetry when a mere child. At nine years of age she read poetry, learned it, and wrote it, all with great ardor. At fourteen she wrote tragedies. She was chafing under her restraints. She said: "I cannot be gentle; I must rage." A drama of horrors was the result.


When the princess was eighteen, a series of sorrows befell her. First her invalid brother died, then her dearest friend, then her father. For several years, now, she studied, travelled and taught. She always had a strong inclination to become a teacher. When she was twenty-four years old she had about made up her mind to prepare for the examination with this end in view. Her friends wanted her to marry and said she was fit for a throne. She laughingly said to them one day that the only throne that could lure her would be the Rumanian, for in Rumania there would be a chance to accomplish some good. There was no king of Rumania at that time. But in 1866 an acquaintance of Elizabeth's was put at the head of the Rumania state, with the title of Prince Charles I, of Rumania. Her romantic acquaintance with this Hohenzollern prince is well known,-how, when a girl visiting in Berlin, she fell down a palace stair and was caught by him at the landing. marriage with him was less romantic. It was arranged by her mother in the German fashion. A day's courting and a month's engagement and the Princess of Wied became the Princess of Rumania. That was in November, 1869.


Elizabeth began at once to devote herself to the needs of her people. She established hospitals, schools, asylums, poor-unions, etc. It was not long before she came to be called the "Mother of her people." In 1874 she met with the greatest sorrow of her life. She lost her only child. The loss has proved the world's gain, for but for it we hould never have heard of Carmen Sylva. I have

said that Elizabeth wrote poetry in childhood. She kept on writing after she had passed from girlhood into womanhood. But she kept the secret of her composition to herself. After the death of her little girl she turned to literature in earnest as the only comfort of her life beside caring for her people. She no longer concealed her gifts and aspirations for authorship. She translated poems, tales and novels to learn the writer's art, of which she admitted she knew nothing. She was hard at original compositions when the Turko-Russian war broke out. She and her husband did noble work in the war- the Prince in the field and the Princess in the hospital. In acknowledgment of his services, Rumania was recognized as an independent kingdom in 1881, and Charles and Elizabeth became King and Queen of Rumania.


Since the end of the war Elizabeth has been untiring in her literary activity. In 1880 the first book was published with "Carmen Sylva" on the title page. It was a volume of poems, translated from Rumanian into German. The next year she published her first book of original poems, entitled 'Stürme." I cannot here even enumerate all the books that I have described in the introduction to "Songs of Toil." The mere enumeration would indicate the Queen's remarkable productivity. In 1882 appeared "Die Hexe" (poems), and "Jehovah" (poem); in 1883 "Meine Ruh'" (poems); in 1884 "Mein Rhein" (poems). Other poems are "Mein Buch" (poem), and a collection of Handwerkerlieder," poems upon Egypt, and the " the second part of which has been published only in "Songs of Toil." The Queen's prose writings are numerous, consisting of some fourteen publications, being of novels, stories and tales. Such is the work that this gifted woman has accomplished in less than a decade. It is amazing that one woman could have done as much, and that woman a queen upon a throne. J. E. B.

THE SCISSORS-GRINDER'S SONG. FETCH on your scissors, your slender bladeTo make them brilliant and sharp's my trade; To every door-step my grindstone comes, And on and ever it strolls and hums.

I and my grindstone, we wander by,
And no one asks me from whence come I;
How poor I am, no one cares to know,
None care to hear of my spirit's woe.

I'm ground by sorrow both day and night,
And yet I never am polished bright;
I'm ground by hunger, and though it pales
The face, to sharpen the wit it fails.

[blocks in formation]

High in an attic room this decoration

In splendor wakens, where a man, deft-handed, Sets tiny bits of bright illumination

To shield his fading sight, his white locks banded With a green shade. What profits lamentation? The work's eternal- God hath so commanded!


If only 'twere not Christmas Eve,
Nor bright other places,
Nor loaded the boards I perceive,
Nor happy the faces,

And not so wretched at home,

And none of this whining

And begging for bread when I come By little cheeks pining

To-day for hunger again,

To deeply depress me!

If they, who forget now my pain, Could see it distress me!

Too listlessly come I and go;
All dirty I never

Must faint in the twilight glow
But toil on forever.

Six children I have to relieve

How blanched are their faces! If only 'twere not Christmas Eve, Nor bright other places!


WE hammer, hammer, hammer on and on,
Day-out, day-in, throughout the year,
In blazing heat and tempests drear;
God's house we slowly heavenward rear-
We'll never see it done!

We hammer, hammer, hammer, might and main.
The sun torments, the rain drops prick,
Our eyes grow blind with dust so thick;
Our name in dust, too, fadeth quick-
No glory and no gain!

We hammer, hammer, hammer ever on.
O blessed God on Heaven's throne,
Dost thou take care of every stone
And leave the toiling poor alone,
"hom no one looks upon?


[ocr errors]

COTCH by ancestry, American by birth — an Indian by adoption! So her poems in Scotch dialect are born of an inherited tenderness for all things Scotch, from a bit of Scottish bloom, to the sublimity of Scotland's stern devotion to freedom and the wild, untamable spirit that plunged into numberless contests in defense of Scotch homeshighland and lowland. In a different key is that verse which expresses the heart, thought, and experiences of the American woman, alive to modern, intellectual activity and to the inner life hidden from ordinary apprehension. While her poems of Indian legend and belief come warm from her love of, sympathy with, and relationship to the red race so swiftly disappearing.

The history of the Maxwells, lineal descendants of the Earls of Nithsdale, is full of romance and adventure, extending to the private lives of the later representatives of the family. The grandfather of Mrs. Converse was born on the shores of County Down, Ireland, his father and mother being cast there by shipwreck, having embarked for America in 1770. After the babe was some months old they finally reached these shores, and settled in Berkley, Virginia, in 1772. In 1792 the baby Guy Maxwell was a young man, and removed to the spot now Elmira, N. Y. Of the children of Guy who became especially prominent, the father of Mrs. Converse, Thomas Maxwell, was remarkable. A man of great natural ability, he was an influential factor in a region of country where, it is yet said, "The word of a Maxwell was law." He served his locality as a Member of Congress, and occupied various important positions. He was a graceful writer, and a valued contributor to the Knicker bocker Magazine. From him his daughter Harriet inherited her most prominent characteristics.

Harriet Maxwell Converse was born in Elmira, N. Y., of Thomas Maxwell and Maria Purdy his wife. Left motherless at a tender age, she was sent to Milan, Ohio, and there put to school under the eye of an aunt who there resided. Early married, she became a widow while her former companions were yet girls, and in the year 1861 she married, for her second husband, Frank B. Converse, a playmate of her childhood days. For five years after her last marriage she travelled in the United States and Europe, writing occasionally prose and verse under a pseudonym. Not until 1881 did she begin to make use of her own name in print. She then set herself seriously to her work and in 1883 published her first volume, "Sheaves," which has passed through several editions. Of this book Whittier wrote to its author, "It is a sheaf in which there are no tares." The last edition contains several poems added at Mr. Whittier's suggestion.

« PředchozíPokračovat »